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Maps, Lies, and the DEP Webpage

DEP links to a map the flat out contradicts the claim in text

Press office spin tactics infect clean water program

[Update 2/3/16 – 6:30 pm – DEP corrected the “inadvertent error”:

Dear Mr. Wolfe:

Thank you for bringing the inadvertent error referenced in your email below to my attention. It was certainly not the Department’s intention to mislead the public about the assessment results presented in the Draft 2014 Integrated Report. The erroneous link has been removed, as you suggested. Thank you again for your interest in the New Jersey Draft 2014 Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require additional information or assistance.

Sincerely, ~~~ end update]

To many, this may seem like nitpicking, an inadvertent minor error, or no big deal.

But it clearly is not.

If a scientist or writer did this, he/she would be denounced as sloppy or unethical in sourcing or interpreting or presenting data or maps illustrating the data. Here’s why.

Yesterday, DEP released the Clean Water Act Section 303(d) report (see this).

In a webpage that summarizes and presents the data from various documents, there are many examples of where DEP tried to spin what could credibly support the most favorable interpretations, while omitting or downplaying negative conclusions.

But in one case, DEP either made a significant mistake or they intentionally misled readers.

Specifically, read this text and then hit the link embedded in the text:

“Statewide, 205 miles of rivers and streams, and 2,197 acres of lakes located within 14 of New Jersey’s 958 sub watersheds fully supporting all designated uses (except for fish consumption)”

Clearly, that statement pertains to waterbodies that “fully support all designated uses” (underline in original).

To emphasize this point, the DEP even underlines the word “all” (put the cursor over the linked text before accessing and you can see the word “all” stand out as underlined for special emphasis).

However, when the reader clicks on the link embedded in the text fully support all designated uses”the reader is taken to a map that illustrates waterbodies that “fully support at least one designated use”.

There is a huge difference between supporting all designated uses and supporting just one designated use.

Linking to a map that contradicts the text you embed the link in is a very misleading practice.

I’ve brought this issue to the attention of the DEP manager responsible for it and demanded that it be corrected immediately. Let’s see how they respond.

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